Banner image

IN-DEPTH: Max Power - Crumpton On Drive, Dynamism And Making An Impact

If you were asked to guess the player with the highest standing vertical jump in the Bristol Rugby squad, Max Crumpton isn’t a name that would immediately spring to mind.

But, at a staggering 97cm (38.19 inches), the hooker is top of the tree, king of the spring – and to put that into context, NBA superstar LeBron James can soar to around 102cm (40 inches) while Brandon Boggs of the Bristol Flyers can leap 92cm (36 inches).

It’s a remarkable figure and not the only gym category that Crumpton excels in – in fact; when it comes to Olympic lifting the 23-year-old is the squad’s strongman and says his form under the bar is always a good indicator of his mental and physical condition.

“I think for me, I like to base my game on power, speed and physicality and that is portrayed by the Olympic lifting that I do,” he says.

“I’ve always been fairly powerful but in the last two years I’ve tried to focus more on maintaining it and improving it, which definitely translates into my game.

“I like to set my target in terms of knowing where I am at the start of the season and knowing where I am at the end of the season. I generally try to do powerlifts throughout the season and if I feel like I’m doing them right, I feel good in myself and in my game. If they’re going wrong and I know I’m not quite on the ball or a bit behind somewhere, I know I can translate that to how I’m actually feeling."

“My standing vertical jump works as a go-to for me to know where I’m at, so when it’s down and if I’m hitting a low number on that, say 85, I know I’m not physically there – maybe fatigued or tired.

“Power has always been a natural attribute for me – even during my academy days I was right up there on vertical jumps and lifts. But I’m now targeting one metre on the vertical jump, so we’ll see how that goes.”

For Crumpton, lifting weights in the gym is a passion as well as a professional necessity, ensuring his standards are driven by a determination to improve and an enjoyment factor. But it also causes some dilemma, in that the powerhouse forward finds it difficult to stay away during enforced rest periods. Players who can’t get enough of training are often a coach’s dream, but in Crumpton’s case, it’s important his body is given adequate recovery time."

“Power has always been a natural attribute for me – even during my academy days I was right up there on vertical jumps and lifts."

Max Crumpton

“I can get a bit twitchy if I have time off and don’t do anything in that time,” he says. “I don’t feel right, I feel like I have to do something. It’s a coach’s nightmare because they’re giving us days off and I’m not resting.

“I love my training and lifting but obviously it’s very important for me to find that balance.”

His physical statistics may be sky-high but the former England U16, U18 and U20 international remains grounded and determined. Crumpton has seen his starting opportunities limited this season, instead having to settle for an impactful role off the bench. If he’s involved, he’s happy – but don’t pigeonhole him as ‘impact sub’, Crumpton is aiming bigger than that.

“At the moment, as long as I’m playing, I’m happy but you don’t want to get labelled as ‘an impact player’ because you can get stuck there.

“I’m happy, at the moment, to come on as a replacement - the boys starting have done a good job so all I can do is can bring something off the bench and take my opportunities when they come.”

He might not be too keen on the label, but Crumpton’s impact off the bench has been significant this season, chipping in with five tries – three in the Aviva Premiership and one apiece in the European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup.

“The way I play is that I like to get my hands on the ball, be explosive and run hard,” he says. “Speed is a trait of my game so I try and get on the ball as much as possible.”

The Southend-born hooker’s three-year tenure in the West Country has had its highs and its lows – but looking forward, Crumpton is now intent on nailing down the number two shirt at Ashton Gate and playing a big part in the club’s future.

“The way I play is that I like to get my hands on the ball, be explosive and run hard. Speed is a trait of my game so I try and get on the ball as much as possible.”

Max Crumpton

“It has been frustrating, there are always ups and downs and I’ve learned a lot here at Bristol,” he says. “I’ve had some really frustrating injuries which I’ve come back from and now I’ve just got to keep taking my opportunities and go for it.

“I think everyone is on the same page as to where we want the club to be and where we see the club, but we’re not looking that far ahead and we’re taking every game as it comes. At the end of the day, we need to pick up points – it’s as simple as that.”

Crumpton’s outlook is also simple: train hard and reap the rewards and if his exploits in the gym are anything to go by, he is undeniably heading – or jumping – in the right direction.

By Will Carpenter.